In conjunction with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, more than 100 attended the annual Community Diversity Breakfast sponsored by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC) on Saturday at the Benham Schoolhouse Inn.
“Martin Luther King Jr. paved the way for all of us to fellowship with one another today,” said Sherry Tinsley, SKCTC developmental education adviser, as she welcomed the audience.
Only months away from his retirement as president and CEO of SKCTC, Dr. Bruce Ayers said, “I am privileged to have been a part of this program for the past 27 years. It’s important and speaks to what we are as a people and a community. It’s not there yet, but we’re heading in the right direction. All the things Dr. King chastised us about — we need to remember.”
Ayers went on to quote King saying, “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”
Dr. Kathy Bullock, professor of music at Berea College, was scheduled as the keynote speaker but was unable to attend. In Bullock’s absence, Carolyn Sundy, vice president for diversity and inclusion at SKCTC and event organizer, spoke about the importance of King’s life and how he influenced not only African Americans, but every minority in the United States today.
“Back in 1960, when Southeast first opened up it was integrated,” said Sundy. “We were still attending segregated high schools in the county and weren’t integrated until 1964. You could graduate from a segregated high school in May and in the fall attend an integrated college at Southeast. I think that speaks well for this area. We had it right from the very first time at Southeast. I thank all those people who went to Frankfort and lobbied for us — that was wonderful.”
Sundy said King was “a brilliant man” and asked that everyone read a letter King wrote while he was confined in the Birmingham, Ala. City Jail before his death.
In that letter King is quoted as saying, “I’m in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their ‘thus saith the Lord’ far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town.
“Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”
Dying at the age of 39, King was one of the world’s best known advocates of non-violent social change strategies.
Roland Cornett, non-traditional SKCTC recruiter, said, “Here today we have doctors, lawyers, judges, county leaders, college administrators, media and even red-hatters sitting here all together having breakfast and fellow shipping with one another where color plays no role. We’re able to do this because of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”
Performing music for the event were: Lyna Jo Cornett, SKCTC administrative assistant, cooperation education; Mt. Sinai Spirituals of Lynch; and Tammie Chapman, program coordinator and professor of education.
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